India-U.K. trade pact talks moving in right direction: Commerce Secretary

‘Negotiations are on. We are on track,’ says Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal.

October 20, 2022 01:44 pm | Updated 01:44 pm IST - New Delhi

File photo for representation

File photo for representation | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Negotiations for the proposed trade pact between India and the United Kingdom are moving in the right direction, and both sides are expected to reach an agreement soon, a top government official said on Thursday, October 20, 2022.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said negotiators have finalised many things and many aspects are yet to be finalised.

"So, we are moving in the right direction...Negotiations are on. We are on track," he told reporters at the sidelines of the CII National Exports Summit.

Diwali deadline missed

India and the U.K. are negotiating the pact to boost trade and investments between the countries. Both had aimed at concluding the talks by Diwali (October 24), but the negotiators are missing the deadline.

When asked about the fresh target, Mr. Barthwal said that it depends upon the movement of negotiation.

"So, we are moving forward very well and we expect that soon we will be able to reach an agreement," he added.

In January, both countries formally launched talks for a free trade agreement to boost bilateral trade and investments.

In such pacts, two countries either eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them, besides easing norms for promoting investments and services trade.

The U.K. is also a key investor in India. New Delhi has attracted foreign direct investment of $1.64 billion in 2021-22. The figure was about $32 billion between April 2000 and March 2022.

India's main exports to the U.K. include ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and instruments, pharma and marine items.

Major imports include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, professional instruments, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and machinery.

In the services sector, the UK is one of the largest markets in Europe for Indian IT services.

The bilateral trade has increased to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to $ 13.2 billion in 2020-21. India's exports stood at $ 10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were $7 billion.

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